Gary Antenberg

Banking on success

How Barclays Global Chairman of Investment Banking Gary Antenberg’s (BSBA ’89) continued investment in his goals brought him to his dream career.

Looking back on the beginning of his career, Gary Antenberg (BSBA ’89) is grateful that he didn’t get his dream job right out of college. At the University of Florida, he studied finance in the hopes that he’d land a role in investment banking, a career path influenced by his father who’d spent his career in finance leadership roles.

When Antenberg graduated in 1989, it was a challenging time for the U.S. economy. Finding a job then wasn’t easy, so when he got an offer from Florida’s largest commercial bank at the time, Southeast Bank, Antenberg took the role.

While the role meant he had a job, his sights were always set on moving into the investment banking world. After a few years of working in Miami for Southeast, Antenberg was ready to take the steps that would get him closer to Wall Street. An important step towards that goal was getting an MBA.

Antenberg’s wife, Melissa (BSAc ‘89), originally from New York, was ready to move back, and strongly encouraged him to consider business schools in New York.

“At the time, UF did not open doors on Wall Street, not the way things are now,” Antenberg recalled.

After earning his MBA with a focus in finance at New York University, Antenberg started his investment banking career with Merrill Lynch and later moved to Lehman Brothers.

After finally getting into his dream industry, Lehman’s bankruptcy in September 2008 (on his 41st birthday), was one of the most significant blows in his now 30 years in investment banking. The experience also gave him one of his proudest accomplishments – keeping his entire team intact despite many others losing their jobs in the bankruptcy fallout.

When Barclays purchased Lehman Brothers, Antenberg and his partner, at the time, were approached with a deal for the two of them to stay on with the company. The two declined, noting that they wouldn’t agree to a deal without being able to move their entire team to Barclays.

“We did our own M&A in order to keep people in their roles,” Antenberg said. “Barclays ended up agreeing, and so we all stayed with the company.”

Since the 2008 buyout, Antenberg has remained with Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank. For 12 years, he led the company’s insurance investment banking sector before being asked to run its North American financial institutions group. This August, Antenberg transitioned into his current role, Managing Director, Global Chairman of Investment Banking, after deciding he was ready for a new challenge.

While he’ll continue to focus on M&A and raising capital for clients, Antenberg is most excited about being the kind of leader that others seek out when faced with their toughest challenges.  

“I want to be like a player-coach,” Antenberg described. “My biggest value to Barclays is helping develop the next generation of managing directors. I’ve been with the same firm for 24 years, so I hope I have a reputation of being someone that can help people win.”

With his three decades of experience, Antenberg has a wealth of insight into how to create a successful career. It starts with coming into a role with intellectual curiosity, he said.

“Work on all the different projects that you can and add as many tools to the toolbox as possible so that you can be valuable to the people who you work for,” he advised.

Building a solid reputation with clients and your team is the next step, Antenberg said. 

“The kind of reputation that I’ve always wanted to have is that if a client has to tell me I’m not getting a piece of their business, I want that to be a hard conversation for them,” he said. “All you have is your reputation, so whatever you do, make sure that you operate with that mindset.”

Antenberg’s most critical piece of advice, though, is one he learned early in his career – where you start is not where you finish.

“People tend to think that their first job is the end-all and be-all of their career,” he said. “I’m an example that that’s not true. I didn’t get the job that I wanted out of college, and it was a blessing in disguise. Yes, get the best job you can, but don’t think that’s all you’ll ever have in your career.”

While working towards his career aspirations has been Antenberg’s focus for many years, he does enjoy not thinking about investment banking in his time off.

“Having work-life balance is important – without it I could not have lasted 30 years in this business.

“I love investment banking, but I can’t talk about it all the time,” he joked.